PHOENIX, March 26, 2012—The highly anticipated Supreme Court “case of the century” has finally begun.
Today the United States Supreme Court will begin listening to six hours of oral arguments, spread over four sessions and three days, on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.
Though an official ruling on the Act’s constitutionality will not come until later this summer, the question set before the Court today is whether or not the penalty for not purchasing health insurance in ObamaCare is a tax, and if it is a tax, whether the Supreme Court can rule on the issue even though the tax hasn’t yet been levied on any American citizen.
The 145-year-old Anti-Injunction Act (AIA), states that courts may not hear most cases to block tax collection until the tax has actually been levied.
If the Court decides that the penalty is in fact a tax, the ObamaCare ruling could be put off until 2014 or 2015, after the individual mandate is enforced.
The first session on Monday will mostly be an exposition of technical jargon; however, come Tuesday the main event will occur.
Beginning at 10:00 am on Tuesday, the issue will be whether Congress has the authority to compel individuals to purchase health insurance.
The attorneys representing the federal government will argue that Congress does have the authority impose a mandate and the opposing side will argue that Congress has exceeded its authority in imposing a mandate and that the penalty is not a constitutional tax.
Additionally, they will contend that if the mandate were constitutional, Congress would virtually have unlimited power to require citizens to buy or do anything.
Finally on Wednesday, the main issue will be, if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional, can the rest of the law survive, and is it constitutional that states will have to either expand Medicaid or lose federal funding completely?
Unfortunately, no live TV cameras or radio broadcasts are allowed during arguments, as has been the tradition at the Supreme Court. A recorded broadcast of the proceedings will be available hours after the arguments are over.
A recent Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters shows that 56% favor repealing ObamaCare while 39% oppose repeal.
A Gallup/USA Today poll from February showed that 50% believe it was a bad thing that Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In key 2012 swing-states, 53% believe it was a bad thing that Congress passed the healthcare reform law.
In that same Gallup poll, 72% of Americans believe that the individual mandate inside of ObamaCare is unconstitutional. That includes 56% of Democrats, 70% of Independents, and 94% of Republicans.
It’s safe to say that most Americans want ObamaCare gone.
It’s no secret that if ObamaCare is ruled unconstitutional this summer, it could drastically change the 2012 presidential election.
The Republicans are banking on the Supreme Court ruling in their favor, while the Obama Administration is confident they will survive the Supreme Court.
The electorate could potentially see a huge “reset” of the Obama campaign if they lose in the Supreme Court. ObamaCare is arguably the biggest legislative accomplishment of President Obama’s presidency.
If Obama does win reelection and if ObamaCare is ruled constitutional, he could face a potentially Republican congress that is gunning for repealing the healthcare law.
Though President Obama will undoubtedly veto such a repeal bill, if the Republicans could muster up a 2/3 majority, his veto would mean nothing and the Democrats would have lost a huge legislative accomplishment.
Nonetheless, ObamaCare was a huge election issue in the 2010 mid-term election, where the Republicans made historic gains in the House of Representatives.
If the Republicans fail to take back the Senate and lose the presidential election this November and if ObamaCare is deemed constitutional, thoughts of repeal/removal will have to wait at least another four to six years.
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